Proterozoic Geomagnetic Field Geometry

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Pre-Mesozoic continental reconstructions and paleoclimatic inferences from paleomagnetism rely critically upon the assumption of a time-averaged geocentric axial dipole (GAD) magnetic field. We have been testing the GAD assumption and localized non-dipole components in a different manner, by observing directional variations within the Matachewan, Mackenzie and Franklin dyke swarms. Large dyke swarms, commonly emplaced within a few million years, provide the necessary broad areal coverage to perform a test of global geomagnetic field geometry. Our analysis varies the quadrupole and octupole values of the generalized paleolatitude equation to determine a minimal angular dispersion and maximum precision of paleopoles from each dyke swarm. As a control, paleomagnetic data from the central Atlantic magmatic province (CAMP) show the sensitivities of our method to non-GAD contributions to the ancient geomagnetic field. Within the uncertainties, CAMP data are consistent with independent estimates of non-GAD contributions derived from global tectonic reconstructions (Torsvik & Van der Voo, 2002). Current results from the three Proterozoic dyke swarms all have best fits that are non-dipolar, but they differ in their optimal quadrupole/ octupole components. Treated together under the hypothesis of a static Proterozoic field geometry, the data allow a pure GAD geodynamo within the uncertainty of the method. Current results were performed using Fisherian statistics, but Bingham statistics will be included to account for the ellipticity of data.

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Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting in December, 2011